Monday, June 16, 2008

Water, Water Everywhere

I should have known it would come to this: Me, trapped in a bathroom with no door, eating an egg-salad sandwich while the room slowly floods.

And still, we do not know the end of the story.

One of the first things that Liza and I noticed when we moved in two months ago is that the bathroom sure gets a lot of water on the floor. It was bubbling out from under a drain cover in the middle of the room, and resulted in our flip-flops floating away whenever one of us took a bath or ran the washing machine. The plumber came, and removed a handful of detritus from the pipes, construction garbage that an unscrupulous worker or a very stupid cleaning lady had pushed into the pipeworks rather than into the garbage.

And for a few days, all was right with the world.

Then the puddles came back. Smaller, this time, and from the direction of the washing machine, but more troublesome because there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to their appearance. The puddles came whether we ran the machine or not. The puddles came even when we drained the machine, shut off the pipe which brings water to it, and let it sit dry for a week. The puddles would suddenly stop for a few days, and then reappear. When they appeared, I ended up doing a "sponga" (basically, squeegeeing water out of the bathroom and toward the porch, where there is a drainpipe) several times a day.

We called the owner, who said it must be the machine. I called the washing-machine repair company (since it is still under warranty), and they said the repairman would come in a week. Urgh. Meanwhile, we were planning a housewarming party, and the repairman, it turned out, would be coming the DAY OF the party (which is today). The owner wouldn't send the plumber back until after the washing machine was inspected. We've spent the last week praying that the floor would be dry for our party. As of this morning, there was a huge puddle on the floor.

Today the repairman came and confirmed that everything about the machine is dry, and we need a plumber. So I made some calls to the apartment owner to work on convincing him to send someone TODAY, since, you know, tonight our 40 CLOSEST FRIENDS IN ISRAEL are coming to see our house for the first time, and it would be nice to, you know, NOT have a flood on the bathroom floor.

The owner asked that we do one final test: Move the washing machine out of the bathroom, dry the floor, and then wait to see where water appears. If it appears under the machine, then it's my problem to deal with; if in the bathroom, he'll send the plumber.

So, Liza and I removed the bathroom door and pushed the machine into the doorway, where it was then stuck. There IS a way to get it through, since it had, after all, gotten INTO the bathroom, but getting it INTO the bathroom had required my paying two very strong guys to push and lift and twist and shove for about 15 minutes, and Liza and I were not strong enough for that. So the machine stayed in the doorway, with me stuck inside the bathroom, and I mopped up the floor and waited.

And waited. And watched the floor.


Sarah: "Liza, can you bring me my sandwich? I think it's on my desk."


Sarah: "Liza, can you bring me a flashlight?"


Liza: "I just called my boss to say that I'll be late for work because the bathroom is flooding and my roommate is trapped inside. That is the best excuse I've ever had. He asked if he should be calling the police."

Sarah: "Hey, I've got food, and water, and my cell phone. Bring me my computer and I can stay here all day."


Sarah: "Liza, can you bring me a glass of orange juice?"


Sarah: "Aha! I think I see where the water is coming from! Eureka."


Liza: "I have to pee."
Sarah: "That's too bad."


Finally, we determined conclusively that in fact the leak was coming from the corner where the bathtub meets the wall. The water would then run along the wall and pool in the area where the washing machine usually is. Haha! Take THAT you landlord, you!


So, the plumber is coming in 2 hours. Our party is in 7.5 hours. If worse comes to worst, we'll call it a "pool party" and hope our friends will still love us.

(Oh, and we pushed the machine back in place and replaced the door. I'm free to roam about, now.)

***UPDATE**** Liza's version of events here.

***UPDATE*** The plumber has come and gone, and it appears he has fixed the problem. Our pool party will now be a regular ol' housewarming party, after all.

Monday, June 02, 2008

"Change Your Place, Change Your Luck"

Since the last episode of Chayyei Sarah, I've moved into my new apartment and adapted to living with my new roommate - not that either of those things were hard.

First, Liza (pronounced Leeza). She is a fantastic roommate for me. I clean, she cooks, and we each think we got the better deal. Many a time I have woken up in the morning to "Good morning, Sarah, there is oatmeal and coffee waiting for you in the kitchen." Or come home to "hi, Sarah. There's a healthy dinner warming for you in the oven." It's like I got married . . . to a wife. I love it. Oh, have I mentioned that she takes care of managing our (sometimes unwieldy) internet network? Or that when some friends gave me a standing fan as a housewarming gift, Liza assembled it for me? Or that she goes to the shuk and does all our shopping, saving us both a lot of money? Or that I really like most of her friends and think they are nifty?

Best of all, it's just so nice to have company. It's only now that I realize just how lonely I'd gotten in my old place. Leeza is a Master's student, so, like me, she's home quite a bit during the day. Between the regular (fun) company and having healthy meals in the house, I've stopped going to cafes so often to work. In fact, even though my rent is a few hundred shekels more per month, I've calculated that it's cheaper for me to live here, because I'm spending so much less on food (and, also, saving a little by sharing the water and electricity bills, internet, etc).

Also, the new place is -- and I say this with infinite gratitude to God -- just gorgeous. It's one flight up, with windows on three sides, and surrounded by trees. All day I hear birds singing outside my windows. Everything was newly renovated before we moved in, and the owner put in some very nice touches, like pretty tilework here and there in the floors, and beautiful kitchen cabinets with some nifty drawers (for example, a corner drawer that pulls out on a diagonal). The floor tiles are all a light beige, giving the apartment a light, airy feel. And I have the "master" bedroom, which is huge both by Israeli standards and by my own, so for the first time in many years I have one side of the room dedicated as "bedroom" space, and the opposite side dedicated as "office" space, and I can psychologically not feel anymore like I'm working in my bedroom.

Speaking of office space, this is also the first time in my life that I had an opportunity to buy the desk of my choosing. In the past, every desk I've ever had was either provided by someone else (eg my parents, the college dormitory, left behind by a previous tenant, etc) or I purchased it on the basis of limiting factors; in my old apartment, I had to conserve space, and though I liked my desk OK enough, I didn't love it. I'd chosen it on the basis of its being a space-saver.

In my new apartment, I have a huge wall against which I could put any desk I wanted. And since I work from home, I decided to invest in a dream desk which would give the honor to my career that I would like for it to deserve. A desk befitting the career I want to have, so I can be inspired by my workspace and grow into it. I went around to many, many furniture stores, sitting at every desk and imagining how I'd feel working at it. You know the scene in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, when Harry tries out different wands until one of them resonates for him? That's what I felt when I found my desk. It's a beautiful work station, 207 cm high and 166 cm long, with light oak wood, blue-tinted cabinets and drawers, and lots of shelf space for my dictionaries, books about writing and grammar, the magazine holders with my published articles, CD's, photos of my family, etc. Every day I look at it and think "Thank you, God! Thank you Thank you Thank you."

** A huge "bli ayin hara" over this whole post! **

FYI, to all my personal friends: I'm coming to the US in a few weeks. I'll be in New York, Cleveland, San Jose, Pittsburgh, and then New York again. Hoping to see as many of you as possible.